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Hoka Tecton X Review

An inventive carbon-fiber layup and an ultralight platform produce a stable, responsive shoe designed for long, non-technical runs
hoka tecton x trail running shoes review
Credit: HOKA ONE ONE
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Price:  $200 List | Check Price at REI
Pros:  Super comfortable, responsive, ultralight
Cons:  Lacking traction, limited proprioception, durability concerns
Manufacturer:   HOKA
By Aaron Rice ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 20, 2022
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 19
  • Foot Protection - 25% 8.0
  • Traction - 20% 6.0
  • Sensitivity - 15% 5.0
  • Stability - 15% 8.0
  • Comfort - 15% 8.0
  • Weight - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

The innovative HOKA Tecton X promotes balance and stability without sacrificing speed and power. This shoe is at the leading edge of trail running technology as one of the first to incorporate carbon fiber into the midsole construction. Weighing in at only 18 ounces per pair, HOKA designers have somehow managed to add more to their traditionally supportive, cushy platform without adding additional weight. The result is an ultralight shoe destined to help you push your mileage. Yet, for all of the accolades as a super shoe, this chunky platform lacks the grip and sensitivity to excel at technical alpine singletrack. But this shoe may be well worth the price tag for those looking to cruise or race long distances over rolling double track.

Editor's Note: The HOKA Tecton X was added to our review on October 20, 2022.

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hoka tecton x trail running shoes review
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Hoka Tecton X
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Price $200 List
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Pros Super comfortable, responsive, ultralightUnbeatable fit, fantastic underfoot protection, doesn’t absorb much water, very stableUltralight, supportive, uncharacteristically agileUnparalleled comfort, unrivaled traction, ample foot protectionAffordable, comfortable ride, versatile crossover option
Cons Lacking traction, limited proprioception, durability concernsExpensive, hard to get on foot, must wear above the ankle height socks, hard to stuff laces into garageLoose-fitting heel pocket, lack of trail feelingAggressive heel-to-toe drop, lack of stabilitySoft upper is unstable, lacks energy, inconsistent traction
Bottom Line An inventive carbon-fiber layup and an ultralight platform produce a stable, responsive shoe designed for long, non-technical runsThe cream of the crop for trail running shoes delivers fine-tuned long run performanceAn ultra-supportive trail runner with an agile feel that is unlike any other HOKA shoe we've ever testedA legendary shoe that gets better by the year with minor tweaks to improve the performance of this specialty off-trail runnerA comfortable, consistent, and approachable shoe for those looking to crossover from roads to trail running
Rating Categories Hoka Tecton X Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 HOKA Torrent 2 Salomon Speedcross 6 Brooks Divide 2
Foot Protection (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Traction (20%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
10.0
6.0
Sensitivity (15%)
5.0
6.0
5.0
7.0
6.0
Stability (15%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
8.0
Comfort (15%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Weight (10%)
9.0
6.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Hoka Tecton X Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 HOKA Torrent 2 Salomon Speedcross 6 Brooks Divide 2
Measured Weight (per pair) 18.1 oz (size 9.5) 21.5 oz (size 9.5) 18.3 oz (size 9.5) 21.4 oz (size 9.5) 21.5 oz (size 9.5)
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) 32 mm, 27 mm 26 mm, 18 mm 23 mm, 18 mm 32 mm, 22 mm 25 mm, 17 mm
Heel-to-Toe Drop 5 mm 8 mm 5 mm 10 mm 8 mm
Lug Depth 4 mm 4 mm 5 mm 5 mm 3 mm
Upper Engineered Jacquard mesh Anti-Debris mesh with sockliner Unifi REPREVE recycled mesh, TPU Synthetic mesh, Ripstop, TPU Mesh, TPU
Midsole HOKA ProFlyX EVA foam, carbon fiber plates Energy Save PU foam with Profeel Film rock protection HOKA ProFly: dual-density foam Salomon EnergyCell+ EVA Brooks BioMoGo EVA foam
Outsole Vibram Megagrip with LITEBASE Salomon Contagrip MA Rubber Salomon Mud Contagrip Brooks TrailTack
Rock Plate? Yes Yes No No Yes
Lacing Style Traditional Quicklace with garage Traditional Quicklace Traditional
Wide Version Available? No No No Yes No
Sizes Available 7 - 14 US 4 - 13 US 7 - 15 US 7 - 14 US 7 - 15 US

Our Analysis and Test Results

The HOKA Tecton X pushes the boundaries of trail running shoe technology by incorporating parallel carbon fiber plates into the midsole layup. Instead of a full carbon fiber shank, HOKA designers opt for two narrow carbon fiber plates. These plates are sandwiched between their ProFlyX EVA midsole, a proprietary design that couples two individual foam bases. The remaining construction of this ultralight, 9-ounce shoe is all about minimalism. A Vibram Megragrip outsole uses their Litebase technology to separate the outsole grip into two individual sections covering just the heel and forefoot.

Performance Comparison


hoka tecton x trail running shoes review - with a carbon-fiber layup and a vibram litebase outsole, the hoka...
With a carbon-fiber layup and a Vibram LiteBase outsole, the HOKA Tecton X packs a whole lot of technology into an ultra-lightweight platform.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Foot Protection


Although this shoe boasts a stack height of 32mm in the heel that drops only slightly to 27mm in the forefoot, you don't feel like you're standing on a pillow. The difference between the Tecton X and other ultra-cushy ultrarunners is in the midsole construction. The dual-layer ProFlyX midsole design is slightly stiffer than the single-layer ProFly foam used in other popular HOKA shoes. Couple that with the dual carbon fiber plates that run along either edge of this shoe, and the result is a firm ride that offers as much responsiveness as protection. The design also includes a stiff rubber toe cap that provides protection and structure to the otherwise ultralight, Jacquard-knit upper.

hoka tecton x trail running shoes review - the tecton x offers enough protection for technical trails, but...
The Tecton X offers enough protection for technical trails, but really excels on long, moderate cruisers.
Credit: Jill Rice

Looking at the profile of the Tecton X, you will likely notice that this shoe has two distinct midsoles, with carbon fiber plates sandwiched in between. Another eye-catching feature of this inventive design is the lacking outsole — or at least, the lack of a traditional outsole. By utilizing Vibram's Litebase technology, designers can split the outsole, exposing the bottom midsole directly underfoot. The midsole stack is fat enough that you won't notice any terrain features poking through. However, we worry about this design's long-term durability, especially for those who regularly run in rocky terrain.

hoka tecton x trail running shoes review - even though the upper incorporates hardly any tpu compared to other...
Even though the upper incorporates hardly any TPU compared to other models we've tested, we love the fact that the toe bumper on the Tecton X wraps up and around your toes for a touch of added protection.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Traction


While the Vibram Litebase technology certainly shaves weight from the Tecton X, that weight savings comes at the cost of traction. When you flex into a shoe to grip on uphills or go to throw on the brakes on downhills, you engage the outsole in the toes or just in front of your heel, respectively. But when you are cruising long miles of hardpack doubletrack — a specialty of the Tecton X — you tend to move more around the ball of your foot. It seems trivial, but cutting out a section of the outsole that extends from just behind the ball of your foot to just in front of your heel reduces your ability to grip through this part of your foot. This is especially true of midfoot strikers, who already have to scramble to find grip through the short 4mm lugs. You won't slip and fall on your face, but don't expect the minimal Megragrip outsole to help with propulsion.

hoka tecton x trail running shoes review - the vibram litebase outsole on the tecton x is already minimal, and...
The Vibram LiteBase outsole on the Tecton X is already minimal, and then designers cut out a huge chunk in the middle. While this shoe works fine in most situations, it doesn't compare with the traction offered by other technical mountain runners.
Credit: Jill Rice

Sensitivity


As you may have already guessed, the Tecton X is not designed to be an agile alpine runner. The wide platform of the forefoot, thick midsole, and the added stiffness of the carbon fiber plates make this shoe a dream for running long miles over mellow, rolling hardpack. But it does not offer the agility, proprioception, or flexibility for nimble foot placements in technical terrain. The neutral stance and minimal drop of the Tecton X put you in a more natural alignment with the ground. However, few other shoes we have tested have as fat of a stack, or as stiff of a midsole, as the Tecton X.

hoka tecton x trail running shoes review - with double-eva midsoles supported by carbon fiber runners, you can...
With double-EVA midsoles supported by carbon fiber runners, you can tackle any terrain or distance with the Tecton X and expect very little feedback from the ground beneath your feet.
Credit: Jill Rice

Stability


Although the last isn't nearly as wide as other similar shoes we have tested, the platform of the Tecton X is much wider. The midsole flairs away from the upper, providing an ample base that feels like it was designed specifically for long-distance runs over simple terrain. Unlike other carbon shoes that incorporate a full shank, the parallel carbon plates don't influence your stride with any prescriptive midsole geometry. The result is a neutral shoe that is very wide, very damp, and very supportive. While all of this holds true over flat ground, unfortunately, this sense of stability does not translate well to off-camber trails. Like other carbon shoes we've tested, the midsole is too stiff and powerful for the ultralight upper. This causes your foot to bounce around in uneven terrain, which is particularly noticeable (and uncomfortable) when side-hilling.

hoka tecton x trail running shoes review - look at that squish! the midsole of the tecton x flattens and...
Look at that squish! The midsole of the Tecton X flattens and expands with every foot strike, creating an even wider platform with the added stability of the dual carbon fiber plates acting like stiff support beams.
Credit: Jill Rice

Comfort


Fortunately, side-hilling was the only time we were uncomfortable in the Tecton X. Aside from those particular situations, this is an outrageously comfortable shoe. The last and sock liner provide a comfortable wrap through the midfoot, which widens out in the toe box to accommodate the normal foot swelling that occurs when running long distances. HOKA's proprietary ProFlyX midsole design merges two different EVA foams: one that is stiff and responsive; the other that is ultra-plush. Factor in the added torsional stability of the dual carbon fiber plates, and the result is a shoe that can help you push through your longest days.

hoka tecton x trail running shoes review - for long, meandering runs through mellow terrain, there are few...
For long, meandering runs through mellow terrain, there are few other shoes we would rather be wearing than the Tecton X.
Credit: Jill Rice

Weight


Perhaps the most incredible thing about the Tecton X is that you receive the benefit of this technology without any of the added weight. Compared to their other trail offerings, the HOKA design team somehow managed to add all of this material while cutting weight. Tipping the scales at an impressive 18.1 ounces for a pair of men's 9.5 US, the Tecton X is easily one of the lightest shoes in our lineup.

hoka tecton x trail running shoes review - the weight-to-technology ratio of the tecton x is absurd. for all of...
The weight-to-technology ratio of the Tecton X is absurd. For all of the stuff packed into the midsole of this shoe, it's amazing that it fits into the ultralight weight class.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Should You Buy the HOKA Tecton X?


The short answer is: it depends. This inventive shoe carries a price tag commensurate with the technology and design hours it took to produce such a ground-breaking trail runner. If your running style favors long days over forest roads, this is the perfect shoe for you — and it may be able to help push your PR if racing. But if you enjoy running rough, technical, alpine trails, we highly suggest looking elsewhere.

What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?


We tested this shoe alongside the Saucony Endorphin Edge, another innovative carbon-fiber shoe worthy of comparison, even though it did not score as highly as the Tecton X. Long-distance runners or long-standing fans of HOKA shoes should consider the Torrent 2, a more versatile shoe that is likely to open up more terrain options.

Aaron Rice
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